Deutsch: Abhängig / Español: dependiente / Português: dependente / Français: dépendant / Italiano: dipendente

In psychology, the term dependent typically refers to a state or condition where an individual relies on something or someone for support, sustenance, or reassurance. This dependency can manifest in various psychological contexts, such as in relationships, behaviors, or substance use.


Dependent in psychology can describe both normal and pathological forms of reliance. It might involve emotional dependency, where a person relies heavily on others for emotional support, or substance dependency, such as in cases of alcohol or drug addiction where the body and mind require the substance to function normally. The term is also used in developmental psychology to describe the healthy dependency of children on their caregivers.

Application Areas

Dependency is a broad concept in psychology with several key areas of application:

  • Clinical psychology: Examines pathological dependencies, such as dependent personality disorder, where individuals display a pervasive and excessive need to be taken care of, leading to submissive and clinging behaviors and fears of separation.
  • Developmental psychology: Studies the natural dependency of children on adults and how it influences their growth and development.
  • Addiction studies: Focuses on the mechanisms and treatment of substance dependency.

Well-Known Examples

An example of dependency in psychological studies is the concept of "dependency needs," which was detailed by psychoanalyst Karen Horney. She described these as needs related to seeking approval, affection, or a partner to take over one’s life, which could be seen as attempts to overcome basic anxiety.

Treatment and Risks

In therapeutic settings, understanding and addressing dependency involves:

  • Identifying unhealthy dependencies: Distinguishing between healthy interdependence and unhealthy dependent relationships.
  • Treatment strategies: For substance dependency, this might include detoxification, counseling, and support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous. For emotional dependency, therapy might focus on building self-esteem and promoting independent decision-making.

Symptoms, Therapy, and Healing

  • Common Symptoms: In cases of emotional dependency, symptoms might include an inability to make decisions without reassurance, avoidance of adult responsibilities, and intense fear of abandonment. For substance dependency, symptoms could include withdrawal symptoms when not using the substance, along with a loss of control over its use.
  • Therapy Techniques: Cognitive-behavioral therapy is often used to address the underlying issues contributing to dependency, alongside techniques aimed at developing healthier relationships and coping strategies.
  • Healing Process: This often involves gradual steps toward gaining autonomy and managing or eliminating the dependency, whether it’s emotional or substance-related.

Articles with 'Dependent' in the title

  • Dependent life expectancy: Dependent life expectancy refers to the age to which one can expect to live with assistance. Dependent life expectancy generally refers to the number of years that an individual is expected to be dependent on others for support or care, due . . .
  • Dependent personality disorder: Dependent personality disorder refers to Cluster C (anxious or fearful) personality disorder characterized by a person’s pervasive and excessive need to be taken care of, a condition that leads to submissive and clinging behavior and fear . . .
  • Dependent variable: A dependent variable is what you measure in the experiment and what is affected during the experiment. The dependent variable responds to the independent variable
  • Experience-dependent: Experience-dependent is the neural connections that develop in response to experience. In psychology, the term "experience-dependent" refers to the idea that the structure and function of the brain are shaped by experiences that an individu . . .
  • Experience-dependent plasticity: Experience-dependent plasticity refers to a process by which neurons adapt to the specific environment within which a person or animal lives. This is achieved when neurons change their response properties so they become tuned to respond bes . . .
  • Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus: Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus: insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus refers to a lifelong metabolic disorder in which the body is unable to metabolize carbohydrates due to inadequate pancreatic release of insulin
  • Mood-dependent memory effect: Mood-dependent memory effect: Mood-dependent memory effect refers to the empirical finding that people’s ability to recall information is best when their mood at the time of recall matches their mood at the time of learning
  • Context-independent learning: Context-independent learning is defined as learning of a skill or strategy independent of a specific situation in which the skill will be applied- acquiring knowledge for knowledge’s sake
  • Independent: Independent also Idiocentric refers to an individual who is dispositionally predisposed to put his or her own personal interests and motivations above the group 's interests and goals
  • Independent assortment: Independent assortment: Independent assortment refers to the principle that each pair of Chromosomes segregates independently of all other chromosome pairs during meiosis
  • Independent living facility: Independent living facility refers to rental accommodation in which services are not included as part of the rent, but may be available on site and may be purchased by residents for an additional fee
  • Independent self: Independent self refers to a view of oneself as an independent person whose behavior is determined mainly by one's own internal characteristics. According to Face-negotiation theory, Independent self is the self-construal of individuals who . . .
  • Independent variable: Independent variable: Independent variable refers to the input or stimulus that is manipulated or observed. It is controlled by the tester- Other /More definition: independent variable refers to phenomenon manipulated by the experimenter in . . .
  • Interdependent: Interdependent is applicable to the assumption that abnormal child Behavior is determined by both the child and his/her environment, and that these two factors (child and environment) are interconnected or interdependent- Other /More defini . . .


In psychology, being dependent refers to various forms of reliance, from the normal developmental dependence of children on caregivers to more problematic types, such as dependent personality disorder or substance dependency. Understanding these dynamics is crucial for developing effective psychological interventions and supporting individuals in achieving healthier levels of independence.


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